Jeff Kennett tips a bucket on 'coward' Cory Bernardi over Liberal split in mini-tweetstorm

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett. (Theo Karanikos-Pool/Getty Images / File)

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has unloaded on South Australian senator Cory Bernardi, who this morning quit the Liberals to set up his own conservative party.

Kennett, a Liberal party elder, suggested Bernardi was a “coward” and predicted his movement would remain low-profile in a series of tweets.

Kennett is reflecting some of the fury in Liberal ranks over Bernardi’s decision, especially as it comes seven months after he was re-elected to the Senate on the Liberal ticket. Other senior Liberals today called on Bernardi to resign his seat and recontest it as an independent, a call Kennett echoed in subsequent tweets:

Bernardi today said he believed South Australian voters were clear on the values they were supporting when they elected him in the July 2016 election.

“The body politic is failing the people of Australia and it’s clear we need to find a better way,” Bernardi said told the Senate.

He said he had become detached from the values held by the Liberal party and was no longer inspired to continue as a representative.

“The enduring beauty of the conservative tradition is that it looks to the past, to all that is great and good, to inform the future. It is a rich paradox where the established equips us for the new.

“And so today I begin something new, built on enduring values and principles that have served our nation so well for many decades,” Bernardi said.

Bernardi, a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage, said his new movement would be “united by the desire to create stronger families”, and promised it would “give hope to those who despair at the current state of Australian politics”.

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